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A Humanist Approach to the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Guest Opinion

Image Credits: FairObservor

Reading about the perceptions of historicists and various theories that go on and on about the inevitability of history, has made me vulnerable to losing faith in the actors which shape the present while simultaneously building my incorruptibility of criticism against them. Simply put, it has always been a panoptical world we have lived in, where the ‘subject of history’ itself has shaped us into being ‘subjects’ rather than actors in the world which has been actively constructed. Therefore, it becomes important to torture you with what has been disturbing me, for power to me means having to think about what we read through newspapers and not forgetting or hopefully regretting things, the moment we engross ourselves into this atomistic society we mercilessly built.


The question of Palestine, is mostly regarded as a question of ‘nationalities’ by scholars and a question of ‘religion’ by religious fanatics. In this tussle we commit the mistake of ignoring what is the most obvious, the question of ‘people’, on one side given hope of identity and nationhood, and on the other side whose graveyards were built at the very moment of Balfour Declaration. This article is about them, the people we started with, before society constructed their identities. My stress on ‘people’ and the ‘politics of care’ in a realist world we live in that justifies ‘just wars’, would be categorized as ‘feminist’ and unrealistic given the anarcho-centric world, but cautious we all should be, for we all suffer from homogenizing anarchy into ‘survival of the fittest’. This social Darwinism is a social construct that now is a faceless anarchical essentialism of human nature, a justification of those who massacred, those who were massacred and the lost humanity we all proudly call realism. It is my faith in empathy with which I write, the faith in goodness that I know exists, call it as utopian as you may but we can’t deny it as it remains the only beacon of light behind all the progress we have had, and all the progress we are to see.


When we say “we don’t have a solution for Palestine”, we mean we don’t have a solution for the rigidness against co-operation of the self interested parties, but whose interest? Who decides? The problem with group representation is that it takes away individual representation, concerns, worries; and the public realm does not have space to adjust ‘empathy, tears and losses’ into the materialistic nationalistic garbage of identities. The problem of group representation is that it has a sense of ‘power’ attached to it, power which blindfolds us to vulnerabilities, because it seeks to dominate over vulnerabilities. Complicated as it may sound, realists are ‘satanic’ because they don’t want to be in a situation of vulnerability. The question lies in whether this alone is the solution, or can power be gathered through confiding in each other, by showing one’s vulnerability and hence avoiding what scares us the most, loss and death.


Let us understand the power of empathy. I was not born in Palestine, but by the virtue of being human I can empathize to a situation where people have lost homes, neighborhoods, their dear ones; and that loss paralyzes my thoughts. I was also not born during the Balfour declaration, as a result of which the once historically persecuted and stateless Jewish community, were promised home, neighborhood and an assurance that their miseries would end and they would with dignity live amongst themselves; but it fills me with hope of change, my only strength moving forward. None of these accounts can be represented as evil, as aggressor, as about the realist notion of ‘power’; but the irony lies in how we make it about ‘power’, and fight until we register our guilt into history. This alone is the biggest failure of group representation; it comes into existence to forego vulnerabilities and ends up losing even when it wins.


The next question is, how do we straighten up what we mercilessly complicated? There is no one answer to it, but underlying every solution there has to be a basic principle which the leaders today have comfortably ignored. The basic principle of empathy, understanding and recognition of power, not as addressal of vulnerabilities but as confiding in each other through them. Realistic notion of power backfires, it shifts; one day it might be with you, the other day it might be somewhere else, this keeps you on toes. Simply put, when dealing with power, we have to deal with ‘security dilemma’, because power makes enemies not friends and then you engage into the politics of ‘relative gains’ and forego your ‘absolute gains’. On the other hand, the feministic power I talk about makes friends not enemies, it balances vulnerabilities and in that balance lies the power of confidence, which does not expose you to security dilemma, there are no ‘relative gains’ here but only collective systems of understanding and confidence building.


The assumption that man/woman is egoistic, is just that an assumption, a construction. Man/woman is made egoistic, and therefore the group behavior stands as egoistic. The recognition of this construction also brings forth the solution wherein lies a possibility that we ‘construct’ a society where we build power in confidence and trust, empathy and understanding, we change the narrative and construct man/woman as empathetic, the group behavior as empathetic, rethinking Hobbes’ ‘state of nature’ from the feminist perspective of ‘shared power’ and only then will there be a solution to Palestine hinging on the notion of ‘perpetual peace’ dreamt by Kant.


Every reality was a construct before it became reality, it was a utopia, which later became common sense. Politics is about building that ‘commonsense’, and contrary to what Machiavelli will believe, it does not have to be ‘uninspiring’, it has to be about hope and building more utopias, until they become common sense; so that we don’t say “we don’t have a solution for Palestine”, we don’t take away lives and hopes and don’t stand as bystanders in this history in making, and don’t surrender to this guilt of history, like our spokespersons today have. There is no win for all, until we make a situation where there can be.

By Richa Sinha (Guest Writer)

Richa Sinha is a student of Political Science at Hindu College. She loves reading, as she believes in both the devastating and revolutionary potential of ideas. You will find her on richasinha166@gmail.com , that dear old way of communication.




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